Various dietary proteins are good news for blood pressure

According to a large observational study conducted in China, people who ate a greater variety of dietary protein tended to better control high blood pressure (BP).

The association between consumption of a given protein source and the onset of new hypertension within 6 years has suggested different diets to minimize the risk of hypertension:

  • Eat a modest amount, as too much can increase the risk of high BP (U-shaped curve): total protein, unprocessed or processed red meat protein, whole grain protein, poultry protein
  • Eat a little more, but not too much (inverted J shape): proteins derived from fish
  • Eat enough to reach a threshold, more doesn’t hurt (L-shaped): proteins derived from eggs and legumes
  • Eating less is riskier (inverted L-shape): Refined protein derived from grains

Additionally, the risk of developing new hypertension was significantly lower among people who reported eating a greater variety of protein sources, reported Xianhui Qin, MD, of Nanfang Hospital, Southern Medical University. of Guangzhou, and his colleagues, in Hypertension.

They noted that it is possible that consuming a wider variety of proteins in “right” amounts ensures the supply of different essential amino acids and contributes to a better nutritional status and richness of the microbiota. Still, more studies will be needed to establish the mechanisms underlying the inverse relationship between dietary protein variety and hypertension, they said.

The American Heart Association recommends eating mostly plant-based protein for a total of one or two servings (5.5 ounces) of protein per day.

The study counted 12,177 individuals (46.8% male, mean age 41.2 years) representing the general Chinese population. All had completed three consecutive 24-hour food recalls as well as a household food inventory while participating in the China Health and Nutrition Survey from 1997 to 2015.

Over a median follow-up of 6.1 years, this cohort had a 35.1% incidence of new-onset hypertension (defined as BP greater than 140/90 mm Hg or receipt of antihypertensive therapy or diagnosis hypertension by a physician).

Qin’s group acknowledged that the observational study was subject to potential residual confounding and recall bias inherent in self-reported food diaries. It’s also unclear whether the findings can be generalized to other populations, the investigators said.

  • Nicole Lou is a reporter for MedPage Today, where she covers cardiology news and other developments in medicine. To follow


The study was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China and Southern Medical University.

Qin and his colleagues did not disclose anything.

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